From Lindsay Firestone Gruber, Taproot Foundation’s President & CEO
Every June at Taproot Foundation we are proud to celebrate a day we call Matt O’Grady Day. This day is both a celebration of the civil rights that activists have won and protected, and a day of service, engagement, learning, and reflection on how we can do better.
But if you’ve never heard of this holiday that’s understandable—it was invented by our founder in 2008. On June 19, 2008, long-time Taproot staff member Matt O’Grady married his husband in San Francisco. Every year since then, Taproot has taken this day off to celebrate that marriage and the step forward it represented for civil rights. As one of our more recent staff members put it in her own words in a piece she penned last year, Taproot’s celebration of this day “stood out to me as a powerful sign of Taproot’s commitment to ideals of equality and justice—and as a lesbian, I felt safe, supported, and grateful to be part of this organization.”
Equality, justice—these are values and ideals that we hold dear. They’re part of our DNA at Taproot and essential to our mission. But well before June 19 became an important day in Taproot’s history, it was already an important day in the collective history of our country and humankind—Juneteenth. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day the last enslaved people in the United States were informed of their freedom in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation. We have neglected this day of recognition, and we need to do better.
This year, Matt O’Grady Day comes at a moment when we are taking time to understand how our work and subject matter expertise can help in the struggle for equity and justice. And we recognize that our first responsibility is to listen, to learn, and to examine ourselves and how we can do better, in particular to be an actively anti-racist employer, community partner, and leader of the pro bono movement. Today we are celebrating all that Matt O’Grady Day stands for and inspires and observing Juneteenth on June 19 itself. Today we will use our platforms to amplify the work of organizations at the intersection of LGBTQ+ rights and racial justice. On June 19, we will talk less and listen more, making room for other voices and limiting our social media to lifting up organizations striving for racial equality.
We are taking this opportunity to pause, reflect, open ourselves up to learning, and take the time to recognize social justice milestones and the crusaders paving the way to a more-equitable world. We hope that you will join us as we observe these days, learning and growing in the process.